To our nation’s peril, the free trade orthodoxy continues to ignore a fundamental economic fact: It matters where things are made.
Over the past decade the U.S. industrial base has suffered an unprecedented decline. The loss of more than 5 million manufacturing jobs and the closure of more than 50,000 manufacturing facilities have undermined our nation’s technical capacity to innovate and to make things, while at the same time decimating our middle class.
Flawed trade and tax policies and a financial system focused on short-term profits drove good jobs offshore, led to record trade deficits, and left the economy in ruins. With the manufacturing share of gross domestic product withering to 12 percent (from 15.9 percent in 1995) and the financial sector growing to 22 percent, the structure of the U.S. economy looks more like Monaco than Germany. This growth model of asset bubbles, low wages, credit pyramids, toxic assets and unregulated out-of-control global capital has been a recipe for disaster.
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